03/13/2006, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Church aid for disabled children

by Vu Nhi Cong

The Centre of Compassion for Disabled Children in Long Xuyen Diocese educates hundreds of children with mental and physical disabilities each year, enabling them to break free from misery.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – The integrity of the Vietnamese Church commitment to disabled people "passes government checks" and allows hundreds of children each year to get an education "which frees them from misery", said Fr Joseph Nguyen Quoc Viet. The director of the Centre of Compassion for Disabled Children was speaking to AsiaNews about the work it undertakes together with sisters of the Church of St Joseph.

He said: "The centre is run by the Committee of Pastoral and Social Action of Rach Gia Parish and by the Church of St Joseph in the diocese of Long Xuyen. The centre's main activity is to teach mentally and physically displaced children, aged from 4 to 16 years old, as much as possible, so they will be able to take on an active role in society."

All disabled children in Hon Dat province, where the school is situated, can join: there is no religious or social discrimination. A sister working at the centre told AsiaNews: "Now, there are 100 children studying different subjects. After their courses, they will be able to work in their local communities."

Fr Nguyen Quoc Viet said: "The government of the province has inspected the centre many times. Our minds are at rest, because we have no corruption nor are we involved in bad or illegal activities." The inspections "have had a positive outcome. After a good number of inspections, they gave priests permission o continue with this work".

The coordinator of provincial development projects said: "Social activities are common to all members in the society. The government can not monopolize the field and exclude religions from this type of work, because religion itself ensures the participation of all social levels in the projects, without discrimination."

The mother of a child at the school told AsiaNews: "The sisters are working all day with the children, who can feel they are loved. After three years of studying, my son can write, read and do grade 5 maths [intermediate]. With these skills, he can live a normal life and get a job in the local community later."

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